Isaiah movies: Batman is the best adaptation
Batman has gone through many adaptations over the years. There’s no denying the character’s iconic status as one of the most well-known, beloved and interesting superheroes in comparison to Superman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman and other super-powered beings.
My first real exposure to Batman came in the form of a 1960s TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward, the actors portraying the dynamic duo/Caped Crusaders. I have memories of my dad saying how much he disliked the original TV series. Given his knowledge of Batman from the comics, he always envisioned the character to be muscular, strong, intimidating, driven, and resourceful.
As I mentioned, Batman has experienced adaptations in television, animation, movies, comics, video games, and novellas. Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Ben Affleck and Christian Bale have all worn capes and hoods. However, in 2022 the world was presented with an extremely drastic take on the Batman mythology. Director Matt Reeves, known for helming projects like “Cloverfield,” “Let Me In,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and “War for the Planet of the Apes,” believes it’s time to explore more of the darker, grittier and more mature take on the character while revealing more of a story that feels more like a detective noir than a superhero spectacle.
The film, titled Batman, creates a different kind of superhero movie that isn’t an origin story and focuses on Bruce Wayne’s second year as a vigilante in Gotham City. He is not the fully formed night watchman at this stage of his journey, building a reputation among the criminal underworld, instead he seems more like a mysterious myth—a monster in the shadows, if you will. In Batman, the superhero works with future Commissioner Jim Gordon, investigating a serial killer known as the Riddler. Little is known about the villain except that he leaves complex riddles, clues, and ciphers that fit the themes of his crime. The Riddler’s character description is heavily inspired by the Zodiac Killer of the late 1960s with similar themes surrounding his crimes.
Robert Pattinson from the popular Twilight series of vampire films takes on the mantle of the iconic superhero. From the start, there was initial confusion and uproar with his casting, as many fans were only familiar with his work as Edward Cullen. Joining him as part of the cast are Zoe Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, John Turturro and Andy Serkis. I made sure I bought a ticket on the opening night of its initial release. Admittedly, I had very high expectations as I’ve always had a fascination with detective noir and The Riddler is my favorite Batman villain. I like any story that relies more on making the audience think and decipher clues, riddles and encouraging thinking outside the box.
After the movie I found myself falling in love with the movie and consider it my favorite Batman movie of all time. No other cinematic Batman feature comes close in my opinion. This is what I always envisioned in my head when I read the comics and how the character should be portrayed. Gotham City feels and looks like the character itself. It feels more alive, realistic, grounded, dark and an environment where various twisted villains can manifest in the strangest ways. Gotham’s visuals give you the impression that it makes sense for villains like The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, The Scarecrow, and Killer Croc to appear without looking out of place.
Pattinson’s performance is absolutely top-notch perfection. To me he is Bruce Wayne/Batman. I’ve seen this movie several times in the theater, and every time I see Pattinson as a younger Bruce Wayne, he’s picture perfect. We see him more as Batman than anything else, and it’s a perfect portrayal too. Batman is to be watched and feared as a creature of the night lurking in the shadows. When he shows up, there automatically has to be this quiet anger that he keeps holding back from consuming him, and Pattinson pulls it off. He handles voice, body language, combat, and crime scene investigation.
Paul Dano’s performance as The Riddler is another huge highlight. He’s scary, intimidating, sinister, and intelligent, all of which make for a dangerous combination when it comes to the concept of a villain. There is nothing more deadly to an individual who relies more on their intellect and manipulates from the shadows than the use of brute force. Matt Reeves has brought to life a grounded, visceral and dark Batman story that doesn’t focus on the action spectacle of explosions, fantastic visual effects and loud music to distract the viewer from the appreciation of the story. Each action sequence sets the tone and propels the story along properly. This is not action for action’s sake. When these moments happen, it makes sense within the confines of the plot development.
“Batman” is absolutely what the last few films centered around the character should have been. It works on every single level with the acting, action, suspense, character development, dialogue and cinematic music. My only complaint is the inclusion of Catwoman in the film, and that has more to do with the fact that I’m not a big fan of the character. The only time I really liked Catwoman was when Michelle Pfeiffer portrayed her in Batman Returns.
That minor gripe aside, my final score for Batman 2022 is a perfect 10/10 and two thumbs up. I highly recommend this cinematic masterpiece. Worth a purchase and should it be re-released in the future for the big screen. I will come to see the movie again. Next week, look out for my review of the 2022 psychological thriller Don’t Worry Baby.
Isaiah Ridley works at Beacon Cinemas in Sumter. To watch his movie reviews online, find him @Izzy’s Cinematic Escape on YouTube.